• India has decided to ship out doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine to ‘neighbouring and key partner countries’. India’s vaccine diplomacy has reached 17 nations, including neighbouring countries as well as those in West Asia, Africa and Latin America.
  • As part of the GAVI-COVAX alliance, India would further supply 1 crore (10 million) doses to Africa and 10 lakh (1 million) to UN health workers.


  • The foreign-policy benefits in strategic areas could be great. For instance, India is keen on mending its ties with Bangladesh. New Delhi’s controversial citizenship law enacted last year and the news of $40 billion in investments from China to Bangladesh had strained ties between the two nations. The COVID-19 vaccine can let a little slack back in.
  • Similarly, vaccine diplomacy provides an opportunity for India to resolve outstanding issues with Nepal. Relations between the two countries recently hit a new low when they entered into a heated exchange over the Kalapani territorial dispute—an area situated at the strategic China-Nepal-India trijunction.
  • In Indian Ocean countries like the Maldives and Mauritius, India’s vaccine diplomacy can help foster stronger ties in the region, and offset China’s growing influence attributable to its financial investments and social-development projects.
  • Advantage over Chinese: China recently offered its vaccines to Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as it held a multilateral dialogue with the four countries and Pakistan on anti-epidemic prevention.
  • India’s vaccine diplomacy puts it in direct competition with China—which has made no secret that vaccine distribution is wrapped up in its broader geopolitical ambitions. In fact, it has even explicitly included vaccine distribution in its broader Health Silk Road initiative, which aims to bolster China’s international soft power.


  • Make India global supply centre: Beyond India’s immediate neighbours, South Korea, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and South Africa have all shown inclinations to purchase vaccines from India which is estimated to be 60% of the global supply of inoculants.
  • Boost Pharma Manufacturing in India: India can become the pharmacy of the world. If Indian vaccines help developing countries to meet their urgent needs, they can become the future long term destination for market expansion of Indian pharmas.
  • Help in reviving the economy: If India becomes the manufacturing hub to corona vaccines across the world, it shall give a boost to the GDP of India.


  • The US-China cold war has been accused of making distribution of vaccines “political football”, which caused the inordinate delay in commencing the inoculation programmes by WHO. Thus, early shipment of vaccines by India is seen as a rescue from this bipolar tussle.



  • India’s vaccine distribution comes at a time when WHO director-General has criticised moral corruption of drug manufacturers from rich countries for delaying distribution of vaccines and targeting shipments to rich countries only. This could help India have a moral right to have greater say in international forums.



  • Vaccine Nationalism is the mechanism through which a country manages to secure doses of vaccines for its own citizens or residents and prioritises its own domestic markets before they are made available in other countries through pre-purchase agreements with a vaccine manufacturer.
  • The major drawback of vaccine nationalism is that it puts countries with fewer resources and bargaining power at a disadvantage. India’s intervention by making vaccines available to needy countries disrupted the vaccine nationalism.


  • Vaccines are the single most powerful health interventions developed by modern medicine. Universal, equitable, and affordable supply of vaccines for low- and middle-income countries are needed more than ever. In past epidemics, such as the H1N1 influenza, many developing countries were on the outside looking in when it came to access. India is now on the inside, and it can play a crucial role in health and safety in an increasingly interdependent world.

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